Christmas—Gifts—Family, Part Two
In Part One I joked about that Christmas classic, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” All kidding aside, as we seek to reach our loved ones for Jesus, we do not want them thinking, I got run over by a Christian!
I doubt people truly seeking Jesus ever felt run over by him. Yes, the religious of his day—ever challenging him—got clobbered, but they were not truly seeking him. For those who seek him, his presence is grace-filled.
Yet many may not be seeking him, and we want to invite them to meet Jesus.
If your heart aches for those you love to meet Jesus, what can you do?
Take your lead from Jesus.
One approach he used, and therefore we might as well, is just going for it, plunging headlong in, and sharing the Good News. Jesus did it in John 4 as he met a woman at a well. My suggestion is to check that the Holy Spirit is leading you.
Another path might be to say nothing—not even that you’ll be late for dinner because you’re going to church. You may just allow your attitude to show, perhaps even glow. How often did Jesus’ mere presence evoke questions?
A third approach is the one Jesus used often. Show up, show interest, ask questions—be yourself. Let me give two examples from my own life.
One time I was with a friend. He and I had spoken a lot about God, the Bible, and Jesus. Maybe that is the situation you find yourself in with your family and friends. They know you are a Christian, and they seem to ask you many questions, but you can never get them to commit. There seems to always be one more question. I remember saying to him, “You know, if you don’t accept Jesus, I will still be your friend.” He was shocked, stunned even. I said, “Look, you are not some notch on my belt that I am trying to carve. I really care about you, you're my friend.” It changed everything. In his eyes, I went from being the “Bible answer man” to someone who actually cared.
Another time, I was with someone who I did not know very well. He knew I was a “Jesus nut” and so the questions started. I started answering his questions with questions, but I just had a sense that it was turning into an intellectual game. So, I said, “Hey can we just stop for a moment. I wonder, if I answered every question you have perfectly, do you think you would believe in Jesus?” I went on. “I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just wondering, because I’ve thought about many of those questions, but for me it is more about ‘who I know’ than ‘what I know.’”
At first, he did not want to answer my question (“If I answer all your questions perfectly, do you think you will believe in Jesus?”). I encouraged him to think about how he would answer it. I was sincere, and my tone was safe.
He said to me, “I don’t know, I don’t think so.” Which led me to say, “It’s cool you are being honest.” I did not have to ask him “Why not?” That unspoken question hung in the air. He actually started telling me why he was hesitant to ever accept Jesus. Here is what you might find amazing. Most of the reasons he gave for his reluctance, are reasons I completely related to.
He found it shocking that I would share many of the same concerns he had—yet I had made a decision for Jesus. A real conversation emerged.
It moved it from a theological tennis match to me sharing how following a man named Jesus transforms my life—even while I still have questions.
Why did I stop the conversation and do that? I cannot tell you; I pray it was the Holy Spirit. But I try and remember this method.
Regardless of method, can I encourage you to show interest in them? Find out what is going on in their lives. Jesus loves people. That means we are called to love people. I expect your family and friends know you are a Christian. I wonder if they know more about you than that. I wonder how much you know about them. Maybe I can sum up what I am saying by suggesting that you enjoy being with them.
One of the mental exercises I run in my mind is to picture Jesus laughing at dinner. Can you picture him laughing? He loves people. He loves being with them. He walked, talked, and ate with them. He went to a wedding with them. To funerals as well. Was it all theology? I expect he listened to them, and shared with them, and laughed with them—and in the process they knew he cared about them.
Most people expect Christians to judge them rather them love them. This holiday let’s give the gift of love.
If you are looking for a way to share your faith this Christmas, I invite you to consider the 12 Days of Christmas sharing challenge currently being offered by The Pocket Testament League. Get started at ptl.org/12days.